Deprecated since version 2.5: Dynamic scaffolding will be removed and replaced in 3.0

Application scaffolding is a technique that allows a developer to define and create a basic application that can create, retrieve, update and delete objects. Scaffolding in CakePHP also allows developers to define how objects are related to each other, and to create and break those links.

All that’s needed to create a scaffold is a model and its controller. Once you set the $scaffold variable in the controller, you’re up and running.

CakePHP’s scaffolding is pretty cool. It allows you to get a basic CRUD application up and going in minutes. It’s so cool that you’ll want to use it in production apps. Now, we think it’s cool too, but please realize that scaffolding is… well… just scaffolding. It’s a loose structure you throw up real quick during the beginning of a project in order to get started. It isn’t meant to be completely flexible, it’s meant as a temporary way to get up and going. If you find yourself really wanting to customize your logic and your views, it’s time to pull your scaffolding down in order to write some code. CakePHP’s bake console, covered in the next section, is a great next step: it generates all the code that would produce the same result as the most current scaffold.

Scaffolding is a great way of getting the early parts of developing a web application started. Early database schemas are subject to change, which is perfectly normal in the early part of the design process. This has a downside: a web developer hates creating forms that never will see real use. To reduce the strain on the developer, scaffolding has been included in CakePHP. Scaffolding analyzes your database tables and creates standard lists with add, delete and edit buttons, standard forms for editing and standard views for inspecting a single item in the database.

To add scaffolding to your application, in the controller, add the $scaffold variable:

class CategoriesController extends AppController {
    public $scaffold;

Assuming you’ve created even the most basic Category model class file (in app/Model/Category.php), you’re ready to go. Visit to see your new scaffold.


Creating methods in controllers that are scaffolded can cause unwanted results. For example, if you create an index() method in a scaffolded controller, your index method will be rendered rather than the scaffolding functionality.

Scaffolding is aware of model’s associations; so, if your Category model belongsTo User, you’ll see related User IDs in the Category listings. While scaffolding “knows” about model’s associations, you will not see any related records in the scaffold views until you manually add the association code to the model. For example, if Group hasMany User and User belongsTo Group, you have to manually add the following code to your User and Group models. Before you do it, the view displays an empty select input for Group in the New User form; after – populated with IDs or names from the Group table in the New User form:

// In Group.php
public $hasMany = 'User';
// In User.php
public $belongsTo = 'Group';

If you’d rather see something besides an ID (like the user’s first name), you can set the $displayField variable in the model. Let’s set the $displayField variable in our User class so that users related to categories will be shown by first name rather than just by ID in scaffolding. This feature makes scaffolding more readable in many instances:

class User extends AppModel {
    public $displayField = 'first_name';

Creating a simple admin interface with scaffolding

If you have enabled admin routing in your app/Config/core.php with Configure::write('Routing.prefixes', array('admin'));, you can use scaffolding to generate an admin interface.

Once you have enabled admin routing, assign your admin prefix to the scaffolding variable:

public $scaffold = 'admin';

You will now be able to access admin scaffolded actions:

This is an easy way to create a simple backend interface quickly. Keep in mind that you cannot have both admin and non-admin methods scaffolded at the same time. As with normal scaffolding, you can override individual methods and replace them with your own:

public function admin_view($id = null) {
  // custom code here

Once you have replaced a scaffolded action, you will need to create a view file for the action as well.

Customizing Scaffold Views

If you’re looking for something a little different in your scaffolded views, you can create templates. We still don’t recommend using this technique for production applications, but such a customization may be useful during prototyping iterations.

Custom scaffolding views for a specific controller (PostsController in this example) should be placed like so:


Custom scaffolding views for all controllers should be placed like so: